Did you know that over 2,000 Louisiana residents are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant right now?

Why should you be an organ donor in Louisiana?

According to the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, over 2,000 Louisiana residents are currently on the organ transplant list. Registering to be an organ donor takes less than five minutes and can be done inside the app LA Wallet, through the Louisiana Donor Registry, or at your local Office of Motor Vehicles. A 2002 poll found that 41% of Americans are now registered organ donors. 39% of people in the poll said they know someone who's received an organ. That's why it's so important to become an organ donor.

I am closely acquainted with this issue. You see, my father was a heart transplant recipient while I was in high school. You have no idea what an impact someone making that loving gesture can make in the lives of so many other people. My father was dying. He had his first heart attack when I was eight. He retired medically from the Air Force after 22 years as a Lt. Colonel. As a result, I have very few childhood memories that don't involve my father being sick or in the hospital.

My family moved away from Haughton, LA, the summer before my junior year in 1990 to Greenville, Ohio because our area simply didn't have the medical facilities at the time to keep him alive. He was spending most of his time at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX. My brother was out of school and living his life. My mom couldn't leave my dad or me alone since I was still a kid. We didn't have family here like most military families. My mother's parents were in Ohio and my father's parents had long passed. So, we moved and it was hard. The move took a tremendous physical toll on my father. He basically spent that summer at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Dayton, while I lived with my grandparents, kicking around their farm trying to make the cultural adjustment from mid-South Shreveport to an extremely rural mid-Western area.

Things weren't looking good. Then a miracle happened. There was a fairly new transplant program at IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis). My father finally qualified for the program after a long hard road and within days, a heart was found. Those knowledgeable about these things would know it was a true miracle. In addition to having to be from someone with a matching blood type, etc... the organ has to be from someone from a similar body size and my daddy was a big man. Fitting, because he had a huge heart!

Thanks to the selflessness of another and their family, I got to enjoy 16 more years with my father. As many of you know, he almost made it to walk me down the aisle. God love him, he finished just short of the finish line, but he tried. So, thank you. Thank you to that nameless donor. Thank you to their family. Thank you for the memories you have given me and my family through your generosity. Thank you for letting my daddy be there at my high school graduation, my college graduation, and for being able to be around to hear me on the air, for giving him the chance to meet countless boyfriends, and finally meeting and blessing my choice of husband, even though we didn't make it. And, of course, to kick my butt when I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing... Which I wasn't... a lot!

So, in closing, this wasn't for me to spill my guts, it was for you to think twice the next time you step up to the counter at the DMV. Check the organ donor box. You'll be gone someday. We all will. Give the gift of love. Give the gift of life. I am.

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